From the dirt road out front, the bold black lettering on the small, blue, brick building seems like a joke: “Animal Control.”
Because a few feet away is a sign with a child hugging puppies and the wording, “Humane Shelter.”
Together, the oxymoron is appropriate for an outsider trying to peer in. They don’t jive. But they do make sense to the people running the shelter and the control center, and the two worlds mesh more than they collide, Liberty Humane Shelter Director Sandra Frye said.
“I think they do the best they can with the facility they have,” Frye said of the cramped quarters that house the stray, abandoned and unwanted animals in the county’s center. “I think in the beginning the county and the humane shelter (workers) had the animals’ best interests in mind.”
Although the conditions aren’t ideal on the humane side, it is better ventilated, contained and sanitized than the control center.
The animal-control center is run by the county, but the shelter strictly is nonprofit, no-kill and stays in the building owned by the county for free. Six employees work for the center, collecting animals and cleaning kennels, but it still isn’t enough and the space is beyond what animal lovers call adequate.
As a result, the county has designated $1 million of a special sales tax fund to go toward a new facility at the old airport property on Airport Road.
Six employees also work in the cleaner, neater and more organized Liberty Humane Shelter side of the facility, where happy adoption stories and healthy animals reside behind the blue walls.
“I think the current building was donated to the city and county in the ’60s,” County Administrator Joey Brown said. “The new facility will be more user-friendly so as to allow public access to view the animals. It will also be more efficient for cleaning and animal care.”
The small hut of a building will be sold or leased out, Brown said.
The two programs work as a team — taking life and giving life — under the same roof, working for separate causes. The new facility would allow for future expansion and better sanitary living conditions, said Trent Long, county engineer who is working on the design.
“It will be in much better condition for all involved — the animals and the people we have in the facility,” Long said of the project that has been years in the making. “The need for a new facility has been known for quite some time.”
On the death-row side of the building, dogs and cats have a survival rate that varies from five to 10 days, depending on whether animal control can find the owners, Liberty County Animal Control Director Randy Durrence said.
“We try to save ’em all as quick as we can,” he said. “It all depends on the room.”
Although the humane shelter often will take healthy animals in from the other side, if they pass several tests, it is rarely as quick or as often as Frye and other employees would like.
Because the shelter is supported by donations, several area stores — Kroger, Walmart and Target — donate bags of dog and cat food, which in turn is shared with the animal-control. Once the center is moved, Frye isn’t sure what will happen to her job, the building or the animals, but she hopes the county will allow the shelter to stay because it is the only one of its kind in the county.
“We definitely work together instead of against each other. Right hands and left hands cannot bicker,” Frye said. “Animal control … they’re good-hearted people. It’s not their desire to euthanize animals. It’s not something they want to do, but it’s their job.”